Manisha Sinha

James L. and Shirley A. Draper Chair in American History

Ph.D., Columbia

Areas of Specialty

The Long Nineteenth Century: Transnational histories of slavery, abolition, and feminism, the History and Legacy of the Civil War and Reconstruction, United States History, Political History, African American History, Women’s History, Southern History.


Manisha Sinha is the James L. and Shirley A. Draper Chair in American History at the University of Connecticut and the President elect 2024 of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. She was born in India and received her Ph.D. from Columbia University where her dissertation was nominated for the Bancroft prize. She is the author of The Counterrevolution of Slavery: Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina, which was named one of the ten best books on slavery in Politico and recently featured in The New York Times’ 1619 Project. Her multiple award winning second monograph The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition was long listed for the National Book Award for Non-Fiction. It was named Editor’s Choice in The New York Times Book Review, book of the week by Times Higher Education to coincide with its UK publication, and one of three great History books of 2016 in Bloomberg News. She is the recipient of numerous fellowships, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2022. She is the Eighth recipient of the James W.C. Pennington Award for 2021 from the University of Heidelberg, Germany. In 2018, she was a Visiting Professor at the University of Paris, Diderot. In 2003, she was appointed to the Distinguished Lecture Series of the Organization of American Historians. She sits on the Council of the American Antiquarian Society, the Advisory Council of the American Civil War Museum, the Board of Trustees of the Connecticut Museum of Culture and History, and the Council of Advisors of the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery at the Schomburg, New York Public Library. She is also an Honorary Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society. She is co-editor of the Race in the Atlantic Series of the University of Georgia Press and on the editorial board of the journal, Slavery and Abolition. She taught at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst for over twenty years, where she was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal, the highest recognition bestowed on faculty. Her latest book, The Rise and Fall of the Second American Republic: Reconstruction, 1860-1920, is forthcoming in March 2024 from Liveright (W.W. Norton).

Professor Sinha has written for The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New York Daily News, Time Magazine, CNN, The Boston Globe, Dissent, The Nation, Jacobin, and The Huffington Post and has been interviewed by the national and international press. She has been on National Public Radio, NBC, Democracy Now, BBC News, C-SPAN, Pacifica, Euro News, Canadian Television News, Canadian Broadcasting Company, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, China Global News, Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are, and was an advisor and on-screen expert for the Emmy nominated PBS documentary, The Abolitionists (2013), which is a part of the NEH funded Created Equal series. She has lectured all over the country and internationally in the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, India, Ireland, and New Zealand. The Chinese rights to The Slave’s Cause have recently been sold to Beijing Han Tang Zhi Dao Book Distribution Co., Ltd.

Selected Publications


The Rise and Fall of the Second American Republic: Reconstruction, 1860-1920 (New York: Liveright, 2024)

The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016)

  • Frederick Douglass Book Prize, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, Yale University
  • Avery O. Craven Award for Best Book on the Civil War Era, Organization of American Historians
  • Best Book Prize, Society for Historians of the Early American Republic
  • James A. Rawley Award for the Best Book on Secession and the Sectional Crisis published in the last two years, Southern Historical Association
  • National Book Award for Non Fiction, Long List
  • Honorable Mention in the U.S. History category for the American Publishers Awards for Professional & Scholarly Excellence (PROSE)

Co-authored, The Abolitionist Imagination (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012)

Co-edited, Contested Democracy: Freedom, Race and Power in American History (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007)

Co-edited, African American Mosaic: A Documentary History from the African Slave Trade to the Twenty First Century Vol. I To 1877 & Vol. II From 1865 to the Present (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2004) 

The Counterrevolution of Slavery:  Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000)

  • Finalist, Avery O. Craven Award for Best Book on the Civil War Era, Organization of American Historians
  • Finalist, George C. Rogers Award for Best Book on South Carolina History

Recent Articles and Essays

How the Supreme Court got things so wrong on the Trump ruling,” CNN March 4, 2024

“What Made Early America?” William and Mary Quarterly 81 (January 2024): 65-72. 

“The Abolitionist Roots of Civil War Constitutionalism,” Ironclad: The Magazine of the Museum of the American Civil War Vol. 2/Issue 1/ (Fall 2023): 3-7.

The Beautiful Struggle,” The New York Review of Books, April 20, 2023

“Forum on Eric Foner’s ‘The Causes of the American Civil War: Recent Interpretations and New Directions,” Civil War History 69 (June 2023): 84-86.

*”Why I Hope 2022 will be another 1866,” CNN October 12, 2022

The Perils of Public Engagement,” Modern American History, July 2022.

Foreward, Fugitive Movements: Commemorating the Denmark Vesey Affair and Black Radical Antislavery in the Atlantic World (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2022).

The Case for a Third Reconstruction,” The New York Review of Books, February 3, 2021.

What this 18th Century Poet Reveals about Amanda Gorman’s Success,” CNN February 1, 2021.

“A New Low for US Democracy,” BBC History, January 2021

“Of Scientific Racists and Black Abolitionists: The Forgotten Debate over Slavery and Race,” in To Make Their Own Way in the World: The Enduring Legacy of the Zealey Daguerreotypes eds. Ilisa Barbash, Molly Rogers, Deborah Willis (Cambridge, Mass.: Peabody Museum Press and Aperture, 2020): 235-258.

Why Kamala Harris Matters to Me,” The New York Times, August 12, 2020.

The 2020 Election Surpasses all Before It, Except One,” CNN, October 28, 2020.

Donald Trump, Meet Your Precursor,” The New York Times, November 29, 2019.

The Long History of American Slavery Reparations,” The Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2019.

The New Fugitive Slave Laws,” The New York Review of Books July 17, 2019.  Recommended Reading in The New York Times July 22, 2019

“The Problem of Abolition in the Age of Capitalism,” American Historical Review 124 (February 2019): 144-163.

Afterword: “The History and Legacy of Jacksonian Democracy,” Journal of the Early Republic 39 (Spring 2019).

Selected Awards and Fellowships

John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in the Humanities, US & Canada, 2022-2023
James W.C. Pennington Award, University of Heidelberg, Germany, 2021
Mellon Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester 2020-2021
Mellon-Schlesinger Fellowship, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, 2019-2020
Elected Member, Society of American Historians, 2018-
Board Member, Society of Civil War Historians, 2018-2022
Scholarly Advisory Board, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
Kidger Award for excellence in teaching, research and writing, and service to the profession, New England History Teachers’ Association, 2018
Top 25 Women in Higher Education and Beyond, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, March 9, 2017
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, Massachusetts Historical Society, 2016-2107
Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award in Recognition of Outstanding Graduate Teaching and Advising, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2016
Exceptional Merit Award, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2013
Chancellor’s Medal and Distinguished Faculty Lecture, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2011
Howard Foundation Fellowship, Brown University, 2009-2010
Faculty Fellowship, Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, Harvard University, 2007-2008
Elected Member, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, 2006-
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, 2004-2005
Appointed to Distinguished Lecture Series, Organization of American Historians, 2003-
Research Grant, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia 1999
Rockefeller Post Doctoral Fellowship in the Humanities, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1994-95
Post-Doctoral Fellowship, W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research, Harvard University, 1993-94
Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities, Columbia University, 1992-93

Manisha Sinha, professor of history
Contact Information
Draper Research Assistant: 860-486-2752
Mailing Address241 Glenbrook Road, U-4103, Storrs CT 06269
Office LocationWood Hall, Rm 219
CampusCampus: Storrs
Office HoursSpring 2024: Tues and Thurs 2-3pm and by appointment